I’ve been seeing the phrase “nourish your soul” a lot lately, but what exactly does it mean to nourish your soul? And how do you nourish your soul?
Let’s look at the meaning of nourish your soul, and 16 ways you nourish your soul for a peaceful, meaningful life!
What it Means to Nourish Your Soul
The words nourish, nurture, nutritious, all come from the Latin “nutrire” meaning “feed, cherish“. Nourish can mean both to provide with food necessary for growth and health, or it can mean to keep a belief or feeling for a long time. I think think this is fascinating! Imagine a baby that we want to care for, help grow, and sustain their health for years to come.
So with that in mind, what does it mean to nourish your soul?
To “nourish your soul” is to cherish and feed it with mindfulness, positive thinking, and intentional self-care. Nourishing your soul means to know yourself deeply and give yourself unconditional love. This love and joy helps you grow, maintain spiritual health, and give love more freely to others.
They say that you can give more easily to others when your own cup is full, and that is exactly what this is about.
Why It’s Important to Nourish Your Soul
Caring for the health of our spirit and soul allows us to raise the quality of our life in ways that we may not have previously known.
Nourishing your soul is vitally important to the health and balance of your life. When you take the time to intentionally nurture your spiritual well-being, you create space for positive things to flow into your life. You also become more resilient and non-judgmental when life gets difficult.
In other words, you can raise the quality of life and make yourself less susceptible to depression or anxiety when challenging times come around.
18 Ways to Nourish Your Soul
How to Nourish Your Soul #1: Practice Mindfulness
The number one way to give yourself the spiritual care you deserve is by practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the art of focusing your attention on the present moment. It is a deep awareness and understanding of everything as it happens in real time. Mindfulness is best practiced through meditation and other activities like japa yoga or deep breathing.
To get started, I love this meditation guide by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits. His tips include: do it first thing in the morning, start with just 2 minutes, and don’t get caught up in the how, just do it! Before you know it, you’ll be meditating for 8 minutes, 20 minutes, or even several hours.
There is an old Buddhist saying that goes,
You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.
Among its benefits, mindfulness helps us choose healthy thoughts over thoughts that can damage our mental health, help us monitor our stress response, and even slow down time! It helps you find peace, be more grateful, and extend your inner peace to those around you.
#2. Eat Clean
Yes, there is unequivocally a connection between your soul and your body. In fact, the Trivedi Effect says that the mind, body, and soul work in conjunction to find balance in our lives.
Thus, when we care for our bodies, we can have more space in our lives and time to care for the health of our soul. Being mindful of what we put into our bodies, or how we feed or nourish our body, is essential to this concept.
Focus on whole foods, primarily fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish that come directly out of the earth. When something has been processed and packaged, it not only loses much of its nutritional value, but it often is packed with preservatives and chemicals that are harmful to our bodies.
It is amazing how much more energy you have and how much your mood will improve, simply by eating whole, clean foods.
#3. Move Your Body
Moving your body is another principle of overall, comprehensive health and wellness, including your spiritual health! And this doesn’t mean that you have to run marathons or climb Mount Everest.
Move your body means that you’re doing natural activities that you enjoy. Walking, biking, dancing, and chasing your kids around all count toward moving your body.
Regular exercise helps you by boosting endorphins, making you more resilient to stress, lowering your symptoms of depression, boosting your coping skills, and even increasing your self-confidence. Any of these things are huge steps toward a greater spiritual well-being and feeling a more fulfilled life.
How to Nourish Your Soul #4: Get Out into Nature
For thousands of years and generations upon generations, we lived in nature. Nature connected us to each other and to a higher power. But as we live our lives increasingly inside (Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors), we have started to lose that connection to the world outside of us.
So much as breathing fresh air can give you more energy and help you heal faster.
But when it comes to our souls, have you ever stood at the base of the Alps, marveling at the sheer sight of our magnificent planet? Have you ever gazed up at the night sky, looking at light that traveled millions or billions of years to get to us?
Nature brings us a connection to a higher power and a pure sense of soulful being that we can’t get staring at our computers all day.
Laughing is another one of those things that is wonderful for our health. In fact, laughter can help boost our immune systems, relieve stress, relieve pain, and promote relaxation.
But laughing can do more than that. Laughing can connect us to each other. Studies have found that most people are looking for humor in potential mates, and that laughter is a sign of attraction.
On even the most basic level, laughter can bring us together. Shared laughter, or laughter that happens by multiple people at the same time can strengthen our relationships and be a display of similar life values. (This is opposed to one person laughing at someone else, which can cause strain or separation.)
This connection is integral to our spiritual health. As Jon Krakauer wrote in the book Into the Wild,
“Happiness is only real when shared.”
#6. Detox from Technology
Similar to getting into nature, getting away from our phones, computers, TVs, and social media can have a major impact on the nourishment of your soul.
According to Health Guide, “multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.”
If that isn’t enough to keep your social media use to a low or moderate level, I don’t know what is. Being purposefully nourishing to our spiritual health also means avoiding things that we know will be harmful.
There are actually a number of benefits to taking a break from technology and social media, including better life balance and better mood.
#7. Practice Acts of Kindness
According to David Fryburg, M.D.:
Here’s the “secret sauce”: kindness works its magic because it creates or strengthens connections between living beings. When we truly understand that we are connected to one another, we give more freely, we treat each other with respect, we act with integrity, and we trust one another. As the socio-biologic need for kindness and connection is fulfilled, health, happiness, meaning, collaboration, and peace readily flow from there.
This is truly profound. Essentially, kindness is the glue that helps connect us to each other and can help us feel fulfilled, meaningful, and peaceful on a spiritual level!
Find ways to be kind to the people in your life as well as random acts of kindness.
How to Nourish Your Soul #8: Listen to Relaxing Music
Music is another way that we can connect with something beyond ourselves. It can ease pain, reduce stress, and lift your mood.
But of course, when we want to nourish our soul, the goal isn’t to find something rhythmic or too heavy.
Ambient music, new age artists, or perhaps classical instrumental music would be a good choice. These more relaxing genres of music will stimulate your imagination and relax your breathing, making your heart more open and ready to spiritually connect with others.
Even something as simple as nature sounds can put you in a more relaxing mood or serve as the soundtrack for your meditation.
#9. Connect with a Friend
As you’ve learned, nourishing your soul is about finding the things that help you connect to the world around you and truly feed the true, pure nature of your spirit. Connecting with other people is something that can do just that.
The benefits of finding genuine, lasting friendships are many, including:
- a deep sense of belonging and purpose
- great sense of self-worth
- boost happiness
- reduce stress
- encourage healthy habits
These are just the sorts of things that you need to nurture a deep contentedness within your spirit and soul.
#10. Sleep In
Author and spiritual coach Gabby Bernstein says that sleep is a spiritual practice.
From a spiritual perspective, lack of sleep is a big way we block our power, creativity and intuition. Sleep is the time when the body has a chance to repair. When your body can’t repair itself, you not only feel ill, but you also feel blocked. Your energy field is weakened, which diminishes your power presence.
So get those extra Zzz’s and turn off your alarm clock. Getting a full night’s sleep might be the nourishment you need.
#11. Read a Good Book
Reading happens to be one of those things that helps us connect to the stories of other.
Reading Partners says, “Studies show that reading can help kids build developmental skills of emotional intelligence and empathy, enabling our young readers to better connect with other perspectives and human experiences.” (And although kids’ brains are more malleable than adults’, it can certain help us too!)
And reading is definitely more beneficial for us than watching TV or another activity in which we’re taking in a story. Reading is an active activity (rather than passive, like watching a TV show). And studies show that reading reduces our stress, promotes imagination, and helps us sleep better (see #10 above).
So dust off those books (real books!) and start reading today!
How to Nourish Your Soul #12: Do Self-Reflection Exercises
Sometimes, we need a deeper look at our own spiritual growth and how we’re doing. This is a great example of the work of feminine energy in our lives.
Get out your journal, or even just a piece of paper. Larissa Marks has a great set of 6 questions to ask yourself for self-reflection of your life. She uses the term “God”, but as always, if you aren’t comfortable with it, substitute your favorite word for higher power. You can use: 1.) the Universe 2.) Mother Earth 3.) Danu 4.) fate…. or you could even find your favorite god or goddess like Pan or Athena.
The questions I find most telling of my own spiritual nourishment are, “What has been life-giving? What has been life-draining?”
#13. Declutter Your Home
There is a huge connection between the clutter we have weighing down our spirits and lives, and the clutter that we have in our physical space.
Lifehack suggests some great ways to let go, declutter, and find space for spiritual happiness. You can declutter your closet, your decorations, your kitchen, and so many other parts of the space you live in. You don’t have to do it all at once. Take one day a week, your Saturday for example, to focus on one room of the house.
Here are a few tips to decluttering the Marie Kondo way.
And clearing away that space often leaves people feeling lighter, more confident, and able to take on life as it comes.
#14. Drink More Water
Here’s another physical aspect that directly impacts your spiritual life.
There are many benefits to drinking water, including energizing our muscles, keeping our skin plump, helps digestion, and makes your kidneys work easier.
Dehydration puts us in a bad mood, as well. Irritability and frustration, of course, take away from our experiences of gratitude, appreciation, and connection, which, as we know, add to our spiritual fulfillment.
Experts say to aim for half your weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. In other words, for a person weighing 150 pounds, he or she would drink 75 ounces of water a day. Then, of course, add more if you’re out in hot weather or if you exercise a lot.
#15. Use Essential Oils
While not directly healing us in any concrete way, essential oils are another thing that can help us relax, rest, and find spiritual connection.
Additionally, essential oils stimulate our sense of smell. Here’s what John Hopkins Medicine says about essential oils:
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and especially impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.
When the scent goes to our emotional center of the brain, it can then help us feel relaxed, ease our pain, and reduce anxiety.
How to Nourish Your Soul #16: Take a break from the kids
Let’s be honest, as much as we love and cherish them, kids are stressful. When we’ve had an exhausting day at work and all we want to do is relax when we get home, there they are. And we chase them and read books and help them care for themselves, but when the day is over we’re mentally and physically spent.
I don’t even get an evening to myself, as I usually go to bed at the same time as my children do since I work early.
Sending the kids to their grandparents’ house for night is a great way to relax and have some time for yourself or with your partner.
And don’t worry about how young they are. Studies show more and more that there’s no harm in letting young children spend a night away from their parents.
No, you don’t have my permission to eat 5 slices of pizza, 3 beers, and 2 slices of chocolate cake.
But moderate indulging in sweets can actually relieve stress. In fact, involving our senses, including our sense of taste, is one of the quickest ways to relax and let go of stress.
This article from Furthermore is written specifically for athletes, but it holds excellent advice for everyone.
When you want to indulge in a healthy way, make it an experience and BE PRESENT for it. Be aware of your body, before, during and after taking in this indulging food to know when to stop.
Yes, enjoying something delicious, even if it’s unhealthy for us, can put us in a great place for gratitude and appreciation.
#18. Slow down
Meditation is wonderful, but it doesn’t hold any power unless you learn to utilize that mindfulness in your life. When you’re at your most stressed, under pressure, or in a time crunch, stop yourself momentarily.
Slow down. Take a breath. Count to ten.
Learning to take a moment when we’re at our most stressed can give us a sense of accomplishment and pride, and, after we’ve practiced it a few times, we might even be able to stop ourselves before we reach that place of high stress levels.
Slowing ourselves down can help us learn to maintain a deep level of peace in all kinds of situations.
Nourishing your soul doesn’t mean to force yourself into spiritual enlightenment. It’s a slow, gradual process that can bring us a greater satisfaction in our lives.
And there’s no one right way to nourish the soul. But these kinds of activities can help us connect, find appreciation, relieve stress, and find a deeper level of peace in our lives.
But once you start, it will be worth it and you’ll keep coming back for more. Namaste.
What’s YOUR favorite way to nourish your soul?